Voice Of Reason 11.05.01: Oh You Didn’t Know?


In all the talk of how and why the WWF has been screwing up, the focus has invariably been on the large scale. The booking makes no sense. The Invasion angle was badly botched. The McMahon are on TV way too much.

In addition to the big picture, the small things that make wrestling, and more specifically the WWF, great, have seemingly been lost as well.

In the past, every WWF wrestler, and many WCW wrestlers, had certain catchphrases or trademarked utterances that would be vocalized on nearly every TV program. From Konnan’s yo yo yo let me speak on this to Val Venis’s Hello, Ladies and just about everything The Rock said, the audience, as if on cue, would chant along with the wrestlers as they did their thing.

Sure, some criticize this aspect of wrestling programming as “predictable”, but most wrestling fans relish the feeling of being a part of the show. The Rock would call upon the millions and millions of his fans, or Triple H would ask the crowd to get ready to suck it.

In recent months, those with existing marketable catchphrases, like Chris Jericho, The Rock, Edge & Christian and others have apparently abandoned using them in front of a live audience. In fact, there is very rarely mic work done before matches, and maybe that’s part of why chant-along catchphrases are on the endangered lists.

The top wrestlers in the WWF are being accused of becoming stale in the time since Wrestlemania. While the booking has been weak, there has been no new hook to lure fans back into being fanatics. Fans have latched onto almost anything remotely resembling a catchphrase to feel more part of the product.

A quick look at the current WWF will show that very few guys currently have something over with the crowd that elicits the ‘chant along’ reaction. Stone Cold Steve Austin’s What? gets a good response, as does Rob Van Dam’s name and even DDP’s new gimmick. The WWF has also tacked on a catchphrase to the theme music of a few guys, like Booker T, The Hurricane and Kanyon, but none of those are close to being over.

The oddest part of the catchphrases that have any kind of crowd support? They are all attached to heels.

Catchphrases are designed to garner crowd support for fan favorites, and in turn sell tickets (to those wanting to hear/chant along with their heroes) and sell merchandise.

In the past, a successful catchphrase could not only launch a wrestler’s career, like it did for Road Dogg and the New Age Outlaws, but it can sustain that wrestler for a very long period of time before the novelty of the saying eventually wears off.

Road Dogg rode the wave of his schtick for months or years after it first got over, and is in fact still making money using it overseas.

Fan interaction often makes the difference between an average card/show and a great one. With WWF TV, there are so many non-wrestling skits that the crowds are often cold for the matches themselves. Making the crowd feel a part of things is important to keeping them hot for matches. Things like chant-along catchphrases or Scott Hall nWo-style surveys go a long way to maintaining crowd heat throughout the night.

By bringing back in-ring promos, and catchphrases from babyfaces that fans can say with their favorite wrestlers, the WWF can rekindle some of the magic that seems lost from the promotion today. It’s an easy way to re-establish a bond between wrestlers and fans, something sorely needed in today’s WWF product.

Jonathan Widro is the owner and founder of Inside Pulse. Over a decade ago he burst onto the scene with a pro-WCW reporting style that earned him the nickname WCWidro. Check him out on Twitter for mostly inane non sequiturs